The distillery was shut down and dismantled in 1983.
The distillery which later would be renamed Brora was initially called Clynelish and was founded in 1819 by the Marquis of Stafford, later the first Duke of Sunderland. The marquis was one of the architects behind the ‘clearances’ during which tens of thousands of tenants were evicted from their highland farms. The land was needed for sheep farming to supply the booming wool industry. Many of the evicted tenants moved out to the coastal areas and these families had a hard time making their living and many of them soon started to illegally distil whisky to boost their income. In an attempt to stem this spreading illegal activity, the marquis built the Clynelish distillery and licensed it so that the coastal farmers would have a legal market for their grain.
After a few changes of licensees the distillery was finally sold in 1896 to a Glasgow-based blending company named James Ainslie & Co. When the blending company went bankrupt in 1912 the distillery was acquired by a company jointly owned by a Frenchman named John Risk and the Distillers Company Ltd (DCL). Risk sold his share to DCL in 1925.
In 1967 a new distillery was built alongside the original distillery. The new distillery was named Clynelish B and the original distillery was called Clynelish A. Clynelish A was closed in 1968 but was reopened shortly afterwards because of an increased demand for whisky by the blending industry. The ‘new’ whisky was produced much smokier than its predecessor. Because of the dissimilarities of the whiskies from Clynelish A and B Customs and Excise demanded that the distilleries should be run as separate entities. As a result the old distillery, Clynelish A, was closed and reopened in 1975 under the name of Brora Distillery. Brora Distillery was closed in 1983 due to the recession and today its buildings are used as warehouses and as a visitor centre for its still active sister –the Clynelish Distillery.
Brora whisky has been bottled as a single malt whisky by several independent bottlers and is still quite easy to find although prices are increasing. There are also some official 30 year old bottlings available from the years 2002, 2003 and 2004.
Brora Distillery facts
Short Fact: A future collector’s item.
Character: Smoky, salty and fruity. Full bodied.